Today didn’t turn out how I’d originally thought it would, but a thousand times better. It could have been one of the more memorable days of this journey! Originally, Paolo and I had planned on catching a local ferry to the island of Hven, which is directly between Denmark and Sweden. The both of us woke up incredibly early (6.30) and met at 8 in Radhusplassen to head together for the boat and to the island. We were soon forced to change our plans. When we got to the boat, we found that it was tied up onto a shady wharf, and there were no other signs of life around. So, we found a member of the company on another ship and asked if the boat was running. He replied, “The last trip was yesterday”. We’d missed a trip to Hven by one day! At first, we were both relatively dissappointed, but I suggested that we head back up Storget to the TI and find an alternative trip. It was agreeable to Paolo, so we did just that. We found a town called Roskilde which was nearby and comparable to what we wanted to see on Hven, so we decided to travel there instead!
It was only a 30 minute train ride from Copenhagen to Roskilde, which cost 130 Kroner for a round trip ticket. It was still relatively early in the morning, so upon arrival we had almost the whole day to dedicate to seeing this small town. With its 8000 residence, Roskilde was a little more rural and relaxed than Copenhagen, which is what we were headed for. The town also contained a UNESCO World Heritage Cathedral and a well rated Viking Museum. Naturally, Paolo and I knew that we had a full day ahead of us. We walked blindly towards the spires of the Cathedral that towered above the trees and spaced buildings of the town, and we soon got our orientation. Like Copenhagen, Roskilde revolves around one main shopping street, which was very wide, pedestrian only, and rather lovely to behold. From the moment I stepped off the train I knew that I’d love it here, because for the first time on my trip I found a lack of the sounds of the city. The air in Roskilde was filled with two things, a light hint of manure (which always reminds me of the lower valley in Yakima) and the chirps of birds celebrating the sunny day. It was wonderfully peaceful, and great for the soul!
After a leisurely stroll past a few small sights (such as a small royal residence that know serves as an art museum), Paolo and I came to the cathedral, which wasn’t terribly impressive from the outside. I knew however, that it must hold something special inside, because it was a UNESCO site. Upon entry, we found that the cathedral served as the burying place for most of Denmark’s monarchs, from 1000 until modern times. That was a treat! The cathedral ended up being miraculously ornate inside as well, and it was unlike most that I’ve seen, because it was all done with brick. White washed walls between the brick work served as the background for beautiful paintings, which juxtaposed white marble marble statues that were found around the tombs of the monarchs. I was in awe, and probably spent an hour (or more) wandering through the details in the place. I took plenty of pictures, so when I get home, you’ll get to see more of it!
After the cathedral, it was time for the viking museum, which lay a few hundred meters away along the coast of the fjord. The stroll down to it was lovely, and passed through trees cycling into their fall colors and children playing in the park. For no particular reason, all of this made me smile. It really was a grand sight and a grand old place! The viking museum wasn’t lacking either… in fact, I found it to be better than most of the similar museums that I’d visited in Norway! In order to get into the museum, one must walk across the docks holding floating and working replicas of viking ships that had been found at the bottom of the fjord. They were lovely ships, and they may have brought my Norwegian blood and other viking blood surging through my veins. At the museum, all of these ships and their archaeological history were explained. There was also a very striking video on a newly built viking ship (modeled after an original at the museum) which was sailed to Dublin and back by a Danish crew. It was really touching, and made me want to be able to do the same; to spend days on the sea, and to be that close to the waves. It must be wonderful!
From the viking museum, we took our time to explore Roskilde a little more, and to take some pictures of the area. Then, it was back to Copenhagen, on a train that was jam packed full of people. On my return to the capital, I felt like appreciated the city so much more, because it was so close to places like Roskilde where I (or anybody else) could feel like they were in a different time. Now was the next part of today’s journey, the famed Christiania! Christiania is a sort of “free town”, founded when a group of hippies moved into an old warehouse and started developing their own society. Christiania is the third most visited place in Copenhagen, and its easy to see why. Upon entering, you see vibrant paintings, artistic graffiti, crowds of people (because Christiania was celebrating its 40th birthday) and many other things. There was also music blaring from every corner. Hip-Hop, Reggae, Indian and the works. The free city was about four blogs in each direction, and completely seperate from the regular Danish world. There were vendors on the streets selling tye-dye scarves and shirts, indian fashions, weed (after all, it was a hippie-colony) and food. It was really a sight to see, and Paolo and I spent quite a while walking through and examinig something that was completely different than anything that either of us had ever beheld. As Paolo put it, “I feel like I’m in another world, like planet of the Apes or something.” (Not referring to Christianians as Apes by any mean, but it wassss way different). The city even had its own unique flag with three yellow dots that was flown everywhere; it lined the streets, and hung above the shacks and worn down apartment buildings that people here call home. Looking around, you could see the occasional person (definitely more than usual) kicking back and enjoying a huge joint. There were also quite a few people smoking cigarretes, but the majority, like myself, were just there for the sight of it all. I think Paolo and I spent a good two hours in the rebellious little place, completely surprised and astounded by its ability to defy normal culture. It was really really amazing! Unfortunately, pictures were banned inside of the settlement, so I can’t give you a more intimate look besides my words.
Christiania marked the end of an exciting day that showed the many extremes of Denmark. The past, traditional, relaxed atmosphere of the countryside, and the edgy alternative culture found in one rebellious little colony. Denmark seems to have it all. I’ve really grown to love it here!